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Kagiso Rabada 'had to become senior at young age' given transition South African cricket has been going through

IPL impact-makers Klaasen & Stubbs give pacer hope of international success

Sayak Banerjee Calcutta Published 26.04.24, 10:26 AM
Punjab Kings’ Kagiso Rabada during the match against Gujarat Titans at Mullanpur on Sunday

Punjab Kings’ Kagiso Rabada during the match against Gujarat Titans at Mullanpur on Sunday PTI

Kagiso Rabada "had to become a senior at quite a young age" given the transition South African cricket has been going through over the last few years.

The current generation though inspires confidence in South Africa's pace spearhead when it comes to the upcoming T20 World Cup, particularly the performances of Heinrich Klaasen and Tristan Stubbs for Sunrisers Hyderabad and Delhi Capitals, respectively, in the ongoing IPL.

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"Yes, it’s great to see these guys playing well... Great to see a guy like Stubbs being so impressive... Just shows the talent that we have in South Africa, and it’s time for the new guys to step in," Rabada told The Telegraph ahead of Punjab Kings' training session on Thursday.

"Gone are the days when AB de Villiers was there. Gone are the days when someone like JP Duminy was there, or say someone of Jacques Kallis's staure. Now it’s about the new generation and I'm sure they'll be able to deliver."

Rabada, however, has no complaints about playing a senior role so early in his career, owing to the departure of the big names one after another. "I do feel like I have had to become a senior at quite a young age because everyone had retired, while the transition has also been happening over the last few years.

"And it’s come to this stage now where we really are having a solid team," the 28-year-old stated.

Benefit from India

Visiting India since the Proteas' 2015 tour alongside being a regular in the IPL, Rabada acknowledged that the time spent on these shores certainly help him to adjust with the slow, flat surfaces... Something the teams may come across in the West Indies and the United States during the T20 showpiece beginning on June 4.

"I’ve been coming to India since I was 20. So, you get a good idea then of what the pitches are like. But to be a good cricketer, you have to adjust to conditions around the world and figure out what works the best playing in different conditions.

"I guess I'm experienced in bowling in these conditions, although it does not necessarily suit my type of style. So, it’s about finding what works. But yes, it helps that I’ve been coming here for so many years," Rabada, with 10 wickets so far from eight matches in this IPL at an economy rate of 8.53, said.

His change of pace, slipping in a faster one and digging it short all of a sudden to catch batters off-guard have helped Rabada attain success in conditions that don't quite assist quicks. It's all about "those subtle variations", he emphasised.

"In cricket, it’s always about learning about your craft and art... Subtle differences that you might add in, but nothing extremely dramatic. Everything comes out of experience, so it's more like subtle variations rather than huge variations."

'Measured cricket'

Moving on to the Kings' most consistent batsmen in this IPL — Shashank Singh and Ashutosh Sharma — Rabada was effusive in his praise for the middle-order duo. "Both are playing really good shots, measured cricket with aggression and smartness.

"They've put in a lot of thought and hard work into their game. More power to them," Rabada signed off.

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